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3 Mar 2008 : Column 2219W—continued

Students: Loans

Mr. Rob Wilson: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what assessment his Department has made of the merits of using the (a) retail prices index, (b) consumer prices index and (c) retail prices index excluding mortgage interest payments to calculate interest on student loans. [183933]

Bill Rammell: The Department keeps the interest rate of student loans under review but has no plans to deviate from the retail prices index (RPI) which reflects price movements across the whole economy. The RPI has been used since the introduction of student loans and ensures that borrowers repay the same, in real terms, as the amount borrowed.

Interest rates on loans are already generously subsidised in a way which is fair both to borrowers and to the taxpayer.

Taxis

Mr. Willetts: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills how much his Department has spent on taxis since establishment. [171870]

Mr. Lammy: The Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills was created as a result of Machinery of Government changes in June 2007. Information on this type of travel expenditure is not collected centrally in the Department. This information could be obtained only at disproportionate cost.

Unemployment: Cleethorpes

Shona McIsaac: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills what percentage of 16 to 19-year-olds in the Cleethorpes constituency were registered as unemployed in the last five years for which figures are available. [172520]

Angela Eagle: I have been asked to reply.

The information requested falls within the responsibility of the National Statistician, who has been asked to reply.


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Letter from Colin Mowl, dated 1 March 2008:

Table 1: 16-19 registered unemployed, resident in Cleethorpes parliamentary constituency for the last five years
12 months ending Level( 1)

January 2004

200

January 2005

210

January 2006

230

January 2007

235

January 2008

190

(1) Data rounded to nearest 5.

Vocational Training: Payments

David Wright: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills which learning and skills councils owed money to training providers beyond 30 days of due payment under the Train to Gain initiative in the latest period for which figures are available. [180731]

Mr. Lammy: The Train to Gain programme had a total grant letter budget in excess of £460 million in 2007-08.

At 31 December 2007 the Learning and Skills Council owed 11 Train to Gain providers a total of £114,699 for more than 30 days.

The seven Learning and Skills Councils and the amounts owed are shown as follows.

LSC £

East of England

38,133

East Midlands

4,613

Greater London

6,720

North East

53,400

North West

7,566

South West

3,300

West Midlands

967

Total

114,699

Source:
LSC

Wolverhampton University: Grants

Mark Pritchard: To ask the Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills if he will hold discussions with the management of Wolverhampton University on the impact of proposed changes to equivalent learning qualification funding. [179621]

Bill Rammell: No students currently studying equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQs) will be affected by these changes. In future, our policy of redistributing grant will widen participation and mean that more of the millions of people of working age, of whom there are many in the West Midlands, who do
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not have a first higher-level qualification, especially those from non-traditional backgrounds, will be able to benefit from participating in Higher education. Wolverhampton University is well-placed to attract and retain more first-time entrants to Higher Education, which is our top priority. However, all we have asked HEFCE to do is redistribute about £100 million by 2010. Wolverhampton’s share of this sum will be less than £1 million, which is less than 1 per cent. of its overall annual income.

Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform

Bankruptcy: Greater London

Tom Brake: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many personal bankruptcies have been declared in each London court since 2000. [188972]

Mr. McFadden: Table 1 records the number of individual bankruptcy orders that have been declared in each London court from 2000 to 2006. The High Court is the only court located in London with Insolvency Jurisdiction.

Table 1: Number of individual bankruptcy orders made in the High Court, 2000 - 06
High Court London OR

2000

1,403

1,285

2001

1,525

1,427

2002

1,638

1,457

2003

2,046

1,933

2004

3,137

3,038

2005

4,127

3,888

2006

4,896

4,410

Notes:
1. Figures for 2007 are not yet available on the same basis as those for earlier years.
2. Cases heard by the High Court are not restricted to those individuals resident or trading in the London area; they may include cases from across the country, most notably, where the petitioner is HMRC.
3. New case figures for the London official receivers region are also given for comparative purposes. These include cases assigned to the public interest unit (PIU). They do not, however, include cases dealt with by Croydon official receiver, although the London region officially has included Croydon OR from 2004-05.
4. After a bankruptcy order has been made, it is possible that the case may subsequently be assigned to a different court, for various reasons. The High Court figures for the entire period 2000 to 2006 reflect the court details recorded on the database mid-2007 and will, therefore, be subject to movements in both directions since the order date as far as High Court figures are concerned.
5. Individuals may also be assigned to a different official receivers office as the case progresses, perhaps because the bankrupt has moved or cases are re-allocated. The London official receivers’ figures shown under table 1 record the office assigned at the time the order was made.

Broadband: Easington

John Cummings: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which villages in the Easington constituency do not have 100 per cent. broadband coverage; and if he will make a statement. [188831]


3 Mar 2008 : Column 2222W

Malcolm Wicks: The matter raised is the responsibility of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom), which is accountable to Parliament rather than Ministers. Accordingly, I have asked the chief executive of Ofcom to reply directly to my hon. Friend. Copies of the chief executive’s letter will be placed in the Libraries of both Houses.

Business: Ethics

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform which Minister and departmental division in his Department are responsible for corporate social responsibility. [190898]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 February 2008]: I am responsible for corporate responsibility at DBERR. The Sustainable Development and Regulation Directorate, within the Enterprise and Business Group, leads on this area for BERR.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what the budget was for promoting corporate social responsibility (a) internally at his Department and (b) externally by his Department to British companies in each of the last five calendar years. [190899]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 February 2008]: DBERR leads on corporate responsibility but is supported in that work by many other Departments.

Within DBERR much of our, and formerly the DTI's, work encompasses aspects of the corporate responsibility agenda, for example the national contact point and training for business on UK law on bribery and corruption provided by UK Trade and Investment (a joint DBERR/FCO organisation).

Only the work carried out by the sustainable development and regulation branch of DBERR is formally attributed a corporate responsibility budget. Budgets are not segregated according to whether expenditure is internal or external and information is only available for financial years, not calendar years.

For each of the years 2003-04 to 2006-07 the corporate responsibility expenditure was around £300,000. This expenditure included set-up costs for the CSR Academy, now transferred to Business in the Community (BITC), and a cross-Government corporate responsibility web site. To date in 2007-08 expenditure on corporate responsibility is £130,000.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform how many full-time equivalent staff work on corporate social responsibility in his Department. [190900]

Malcolm Wicks [holding answer 29 February 2008]: BERR leads on corporate responsibility within Government but is supported in that work by many other Departments.

Within DBERR, much of our, and formerly the DTI’s, work encompasses aspects of the corporate responsibility agenda, for example the national contact
3 Mar 2008 : Column 2223W
point and training for business on UK law on bribery and corruption provided by UKTI (a joint DBERR/FCO organisation).

It is not possible to give figures for staff working on the corporate responsibility agenda across BERR, but 8.5 staff work within its dedicated sustainable development and corporate responsibility section.

Mr. Djanogly: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what progress has been made on the Government's proposals for corporate social responsibility; and if he will make a statement. [191103]

Malcolm Wicks: DBERR leads on corporate responsibility (CR) but is supported in that work by many other Departments. Our policy is, via voluntary means, to raise performance above minimum legal standards and encourage companies to look at a wider range of stakeholder interests.

We have created a policy framework which encourages and enables responsible behaviour by business and helps to ensure that we have decent minimum levels of performance in areas such as health and safety, the environment and equal opportunities.

Progress includes improvements in the running of the UK national contact point; the creation of the new DFID-DBERR Trade Policy Unit which brings together trade and development experts to ensure UK competitiveness and market access, work for better trade deals for poorer countries and better support for those wishing to trade themselves out of poverty; the Consumers, Estate Agents and Redress Bill, which will give added protection to the consumer; the new provisions of the Companies Act 2006, which are designed to bring greater shareholder engagement and transparency; and the current development of an International Standard on Corporate Social Responsibility (ISO 26000).

Among various international activities the Government champion the extractives industry transparency initiative to encourage greater transparency of oil, gas and mining revenues in developing countries and supports the work of John Ruggie, appointed as the UN Secretary-General's Special Representative on human rights and transnational corporations.

Departmental progress on CR-related matters is available through press notices and websites. Links to these can be found at the dedicated CR Government website:

Coal-Fired Power Stations

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what his estimate is of the number of coal-fired power plants required to meet the UK’s electricity needs. [189923]

Malcolm Wicks: This is a matter for electricity- generating companies, as the Government do not determine the fuel mix of the UK’s generating fleet. Generators have every incentive to ensure that the UK’s need for secure supplies of low carbon electricity are met in the most cost-effective and efficient way,
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taking into account factors such as the carbon intensity, energy conversion efficiency, fuel availability and cost, generating flexibility, supply chain constraints and lead times of the various possible energy generating technologies. The Government do, however, monitor the supply-demand balance in the UK’s energy markets through its annual energy markets outlook.

Coal-Fired Power Stations: Carbon Sequestration

Colin Challen: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform what definition of the term “capture ready” he uses; and what criteria are used to determine whether a proposed power plant is “capture ready” with regard to carbon capture and storage. [189925]

Malcolm Wicks: There is as yet no agreed definition of capture ready either in the UK or internationally.

Ministers committed themselves in the Energy White Paper last year (s.5.4.27) to consulting on both the principle of carbon capture readiness and its definition. We expect to issue the consultation document shortly. We will also seek views on the draft EU directive on carbon storage (including its proposed definition of what constitutes carbon capture readiness) published a few weeks ago.

Gregory Barker: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform if he will hold a consultation on a suitable definition for the phrase carbon capture and storage ready as it applies to coal-fired power stations. [190220]

Malcolm Wicks: In our Energy White Paper last May, the Government committed themselves to doing exactly this in respect of all fossil-fuelled power stations, not solely coal-fired ones. We expect to issue our consultation, which will also take into account the draft EU directive on carbon storage, later in the spring.


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